Piofiore: Fated Memories
Developer: Idea Factory
Publisher: Aksys Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 16
Release Date: 08/10/2020
A code was provided for review purposes.
Piofiore: Fated Memories is a visual novel showcasing the Italian town of Burlone. In Burlone, there are three rival Mafias: the Lao-Shu, the Falzone, and the Visconti. You play as Liliana Adornato, and in making decisions, the story changes around you. Throughout the game, you will find interesting character arcs, tough decisions, and devastating betrayals.
Considering that Piofiore: Fated Memories is a visual novel; the story is the most crucial aspect. Luckily, the plot is interesting, and the developed characters add to the enjoyment of the story. Moreover, there are plot twists that occur that not only are shocking but make sense once each character is completely understood. Understanding each character and the entire lore of the game requires multiple playthroughs. Luckily, playing through each story makes entirely new events play out, and there are drastically different endings.
There are five suitors that Liliana can fall in love with. Each of these characters are completely different, and they offer completely different outlooks life. Not only are the characters different from each other, but they feel fleshed out, as though their personalities could be that of a real person. Each action that takes place does not feel out of place when a character performs it, but also does not play it too safe. As the storyline develops, the characters remain faithful to their personality.
Not only are there elements that impact the love life of Liliana and her suitor, but considering the presence of the Mafia, characters will die. A lot. Despite the heavy emphasis on the romantic aspect of the game, the Mafia still exists, and the game delivered a story that shows the impact of the Mafia on the lives in Burlone. Personally, I found the story related to Burlone fascinating, and the developers created an excellent foundation from which to build the characters.
More than just a Romance
The focus of the story is to depict the love interests that Liliana has. Despite this, the game integrates the Mafia plot, and in doing so expands their target audience and the feel of the story. The story will captivate the audience, especially if the audience is interested in the romantic elements of the story.
Decisions Decisions Decisions
Piofiore: Fated Memories is a visual novel, meaning the only gameplay is deciding between a select few options that alter the story. There are multiple suitors in the game that can be decided by the first two days: the prologue. The choices that led to encountering each suitor did not make sense. It felt less like choosing the suitor and more like hoping the options you selected would lead to the suitor you desired. For example, to match with Orlok, Liliana does not interact with Orlok. Instead, whether Liliana is matched with Orlok is based upon the interactions Liliana makes with other people. It is frustrating to choose the person you want when seemingly random actions impact which character you are matched with. Using a guide seems necessary if you want to choose the suitor you desire.
Additionally, the game begins with two suitors. After completing the game with one of them, Liliana can match with two additional suitors. This forces the player to have a basic understanding of at least one of the starting characters before they begin to learn about other characters. I enjoyed this feature, as playing through the game again was more interesting when there were alternate characters to explore. Understanding all the characters will help the player get the best experience out of the game.
There are also additional endings that the player can encounter. Each character has three different endings and uncovering each was shocking. The tragic endings are truly tragic. I felt horrible for the characters, but each felt plausible. Uncovering each ending required the player to select different options. Luckily, the game saves which options you selected, and displays their text in red, making for simple alterations in the next playthrough.
The decision making in the game can be random. However, the developers help make replaying the game easy by showing the player which options they selected. This means they are not forced to replay the same story thinking they were going to view a new ending.
The sound design is excellent in this game. They offer a large variety of tracks that change based upon the situation. The soundtrack is fitting but is never too distracting. The soundtrack supplements the story, and you can even play the soundtrack whenever you want using the extras menu.
The sound effects present also add to the experience of the game, making it feel like a complete experience. For example, when a character walks, there are sound effects of people walking. Small additions such as this help make the game feel complete.
The game also features voice acting. Each line has voice lines that supplement the text. These lines are spoken in Japanese, and even though I am unable to understand Japanese, having the voice lines benefit the experience. Unfortunately, the main character’s voice lines are not acted. This makes sense because if the character is speaking to you, it cannot also be you. Even though it would defy logic, I think integrating voice lines for the main character would have helped make the experience feel better, as the silence is awkward.
The visuals in this game range from good to stunning. Most of the story has images of the characters that look like cardboard cutouts. This is not unreasonable, as completely animating the characters would be incredibly time consuming and expensive. The characters stand out from the various backgrounds, and they have different facial expressions depending on the situation.
In addition to the cutouts, occasionally the game will pleasantly surprise the player with a full art image of what is going on in the story. These images are saved to the gallery, allowing the player to revisit these images as frequently as they wish. These images are gorgeous and offer various angles of the characters in the game.
Unfortunately, the combat scenes in this game are extremely lacking. The text describes amazing feats being performed, and the combat scenes would benefit from having full art images, to show how crazy the combat is. The game chooses to use the full art images solely for the romantic scenes. The fight scenes are left with cheap-looking blood drips and slices covering the screen. This is not the end of the world, but it shows that the target audience is those looking for romantic relationships. More detailed fight scenes would have made this game a more fulfilling experience and would attract a wider audience.
Piofiore: Fated Memories features an expansive control scheme including options to hide the text, save the game and to have it move automatically. These options are incredible, but they were never explained to the player. The first time I stopped playing the game, I left the game thinking it would save automatically, and I lost my progress. All desired features are present; however, they are not explained to the player, and the player can be confused by what the features do. For example, they have two modes for the fast forward. You can either skip all text or only skip the text you read before. This feature is incredibly useful, but it was never explained to the player, and I only figured it out by experimenting. The controls available are excellent, but they are presented to the player poorly.
The game overall is very polished. However, there are grammatical mistakes and translation errors. They were few and far between. However, a very substantial error occurred where the text read “name three” instead of the name for my player. This broke the immersion for that moment and reminded me that I was playing a game.
Additionally, due to the UI or the background, text can be challenging to read.
For those interested in romantic visual novels, Piofore: Fated Memories offers a lot of value. It has well-crafted characters, an expansive world, and quality visuals. Despite underwhelming action scenes, random suitor selection and unclear controls, the game brings a substantial amount of content to the table. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with Piofiore: Fated Memories.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Piofiore: Fated Memories here
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